Earth Day is something most people these days have heard of, whether or not they have celebrated it. But as we move into the future, protecting and sustaining the earth has become more important than ever. These days, many live each day like it is Earth Day, and for that we are grateful.
But where did Earth Day come from? It wasn’t always celebrated. Today is the 43rd annual Earth day, meaning that the very first was celebrated in 1970. But the movement began in the preceding decade, when Americans were also protesting the Vietnam War. There was a significant oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 1969, and after visiting the site Senator Gaylord Nelson (D) was moved to action.
Nelson wanted to raise public awareness of environmental issues, and he started at the grassroots level. A year later, on April 22, 1970, the first ever Earth Day took place—about 20 million Americans across the country held rallies and teach-ins on environmentalism, seeking change. From this movement, the Environmental Protection Agency was born, as were the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species acts. Nelson had started a revolution.
In 1990, countries around the world began celebrating Earth Day, with over 200 million people in more than 141 countries participating. Now, in 2013, those numbers have grown to more than 1 billion people in 192 countries.
While for many Earth Day simply means going out and planting a few shrubs or trees, its roots come from a much deeper cause—a need for change in our daily lives. People are more aware than ever of the impact we have on the environment, but there is still much change that needs to happen; if we are to save the planet from ourselves, everyone will have to do their part. Take this Earth Day to spread a message of sustainability, living green, and saving the world.